Health Benefits of Walnut Oils:
Walnuts and their oils are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Most of the
research on the health benefits of walnuts has focused on consumption of the nut
itself, although interest in walnut oil has grown over the last decade. The
health benefits of walnuts and walnut oil are similar if the oil is unrefined,
fresh (6 month shelf life), and uncooked. However, the serving size of walnut oil
is less than the amount of walnuts needed to get the same nutritional benefit.
A 35 gram serving of walnut oil provides the same nutritional
benefits as 50 grams of walnuts.
Walnuts are rich in phytonutrients and are an excellent source of selenium, phosphorous,
magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium.
Walnuts and/or walnut oil provide hefty
levels of Vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-3, coupled with Vitamin-E and niacin.
The health benefits of walnuts were first
identified in 1937 when researchers discovered that they were a significant
source of vitamin C. Over the last 70 years, numerous other studies that
evaluated the effects of walnut and walnut oil consumption on mortality, disease
prevalence, and disease risk factors have been performed. It has now been well
established that eating walnuts on a regular basis has definite health benefit.
The most significant of which being a reduction in the risk of coronary heart
disease. Adding walnuts to the daily diet can certainly help one maintain a
healthful body balance.
Consumption of walnuts or walnut oil has been
shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and the ratio of LDL to
HDL (good cholesterol). Furthermore, regular walnut oil consumption reduced
triglyceride levels 19 to 33% in a 45-day study. In 2004, the Food and Drug
“Supportive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of
walnuts, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet may reduce the
risk of coronary heart disease.”
The cardio-protective benefits of walnut oil
are primarily due to the high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which
is an omega-3 fatty acid that ultimately is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid
(EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and omega-3 fatty acids that are easily
utilized by the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition reported that one tablespoon of walnut oil provides 1.4 grams of ALA.
Men require 1.6 grams and women 1.1 grams of ALA per day. Walnuts differ from
other nuts because they primarily consist of omega-3 fatty acids whereas
monounsaturated fats are found in higher levels in most other types of nuts.
Walnuts and walnut oil are also rich in
antioxidants and are one of the best antioxidant sources among the tree nuts.
Antioxidants are substances that counter the effects of free radicals, which are
substances that cause cell damage and accelerate the aging process. Walnuts are
especially dense in the antioxidant ellagic acid, which aids in controlling the
replication of malignant tumors and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory,
antiviral and antiseptic properties. Gallic acid and malic acid, both
antioxidants, are present in smaller quantities and have similar protective
effects. This demonstrates yet again that nutrition is best derived from whole
foods verses liquid vitamins and other vitamin supplements.
Overall, regular use of walnut oil provides a
dietary source of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, both of which are
often difficult to attain in adequate quantities within a typical Western diet.
The practical benefits of this regular use are significant reductions in
coronary heart disease risk and possible decreases in cancer risk and slowing of
the aging process.
Using walnut oil in your cooking:
Walnut oil has a rich, nutty flavor
that is perfect for salad dressings, to flavor fish and
steaks, to toss with pasta, and to jazz up desserts. Walnut
oil is best used uncooked or in cold sauces because when it
is heated, it can become slightly bitter. This flavor,
however, can be a pleasant taste when experienced in
Unrefined walnut oil is terrific on salads,
particularly when you combine it with bits of walnuts. Add
walnut oil to a chicken or turkey salad along with some
grapes and chopped walnuts. Brush a thin coat of walnut oil
on grilled fish and steaks just before serving. Toss freshly
cooked pasta in a mixture of walnut oil and spices. Try
using walnut oil in dessert recipes that will be enhanced by
the nutty flavor.